Smartphones have led to a whole new class of distractions. From texts and emails to social media updates, the constant pinging can be too much to bear. For someone who’s driving, they can be unnerving. It’s not just smartphones that take your attention away from the road. But it is one of the primary reasons for distractions that cause crashes. The Nation Safety Council reports that cell phone usage is the cause of about 26% of all car crashes in the US alone. It’s one of the top reasons for crashes, along with speeding and alcohol.
Distracted Driving Defined
Anything that diverts or distracts you from the task of driving can be considered a distraction, including:
• Eating, drinking, smoking, or other activity that causes you to take your hand off the wheel
• Anything that causes you to look away from the road, such as checking your GPS
• Mental tasks that cause you to stop thinking about driving, such as a conversation with a passenger, children in the back seat, or thinking about something elsewhere
While most mild distractions don’t cause an accident, West Virginia focuses on the most common distractions. Talking, texting, or otherwise handling a phone and ignoring the road are the primary reasons for distracted driving accidents. An often-cited statistic indicates that responding to a text takes about five seconds. At 55 mph, those five seconds are enough to drive across the length of an entire football field.
Using A Cell Phone Is Illegal in West Virginia
Whether you talk, text, or check social media, West Virginia considers it illegal unless you have a hands-free device attached. As of 2013, a police officer can pull you over if you are seen driving with a phone in your hand. The penalties are:
• $100 fine for a first offense
• $200 fine for a second offense
• $300 fine for a third or subsequent offense, as well as three points on your driving record.
Sending a text at a stop sign or a red light is also considered “usage.” Parking on the side of the road to talk or send a message is permitted.
Distracted driving involving a cell phone can, in some circumstances, lead to charges of reckless driving. If someone dies in an accident that’s the result of distracted driving, it is possible that a driver could be charged with negligent vehicular homicide.
Even though it’s a common practice, avoiding your cell phone while driving is one of the best ways to avoid causing an accident. If you are waiting for a call that you have to take, it’s safer to pull off the road, put your vehicle in park, and then talk or text. Many phones have a setting to stop notifications while a vehicle is in motion to stop distractions.
Drivers may use a hands-free feature, such as talk-to-text, and be permitted to touch the phone to activate this function. Reporting an accident, hazard, or contacting emergency services is also allowed under the law.
Distracted Driving Accident? The Love Law Firm Can Help
We’ve been helping Virginians for over 25 years with car accidents. From police reports to repairs to dealing with insurance companies, we’re ready to help you navigate through the complexities of a car accident case. Don’t say anything until you speak with West Virginia accident attorney Chad Love first.